Global use of child soldiers slammed

Governments in at least 10 countries continue to use children to fight on the frontline, according to a new report.

    The UN has been urged to take action to end child-soldier use

    "Scores of armed political groups in most regions of the world

    continued to recruit children, force them into combat, train them to

    use explosives and weapons, and subject them to rape, violence, hard

    labour and other forms of exploitation," said

    the

    Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers.

    The coalition, which regards children as being under 18, studied more

    than 20 countries and territories where armed hostilities occurred

    between March 2002 and March 2004.

    Despite highlighting a number of countries where children are THe

    still used in conflicts, it said much had been achieved in the last

    three years in establishing a legal framework for protecting

    children.

    By August 2004, 77 states had signed an optional UN protocol

    setting 18 as the minimum age for the direct participation in

    hostilities, it said on Wednesday.

    The United States ratified the protocol in December 2002, but at

    least 62 soldiers under the age of 18 participated in US military

    operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to the report.

    Named and shamed

    The coalition urged the UN Security Council to ensure it

    did not just "name and shame" countries using child soldiers, but

    also took action to enforce its demands to end child-soldier use.

    "If governments and armed groups perceive its resolutions as

    empty rhetoric, then the progress made in international

    accountability will be lost," it said.

    Between 2001 and 2004, children were involved in armed

    hostilities in more than 20 countries.

    "Scores of armed political groups in most regions of the world

    continued to recruit children, force them into combat, train them to

    use explosives and weapons, and subject them to rape, violence, hard

    labour and other forms of exploitation"

    Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers

    The report listed the countries as Afghanistan, Angola, Burundi, Colombia, the

    Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea (DRC), India, Iraq, Ivory Coast,

    Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, Indonesia, Liberia,

    Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, the Russian Federation, Rwanda, Sri

    Lanka, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda.

    Governments using child soldiers were listed as: Burundi, DRC,

    Guinea, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Myanmar, Rwanda, Sudan, Uganda and

    the US.

    Some governments, like Colombia, Somalia, Sudan and Zimbabwe

    did not directly recruit children but backed groups which used

    children to fight and kill, the report said.

    For its global survey on child soldiers, the coalition used

    information from UN Children's Fund,

    Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Save the Children

    among other rights groups.

    SOURCE: AFP


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